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Delaying election to fight off Boko Haram wise

By The standard | February 9th 2015

Nigeria's electoral body has postponed the country's General Election, scheduled for Saturday by six weeks because of the volatile situation in the north where the Boko Haram insurgents have taken over and declared a caliphate.

Nigeria is divided into two political regions; the North which is predominantly Muslim and the Christian South.

The incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), comes from the South while his main challenger, retired army General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) is from the North.

Boko Haram insurgents have killed thousands while at least 1.5 million people have fled their homes fearing for their lives.

Had Nigeria's electoral body pushed on with the elections, it would have disenfranchised millions of northerners who would not have participated in the elections due to the prevailing security situation. Boko Haram would have capitalised on the election period to annihilate thousands.

Besides the threat of Boko Haram, had the South voted and allowed Mr Jonathan to win, his government would have lacked the legitimacy needed for a high stakes election like this one.

The Nigerian electoral body's move is welcome inasmuch as it gives the African Union's 7,000 soldiers ample time to secure the North before the elections can proceed.

However, there are fears that Mr Jonathan's party, which has ruled Nigeria since the return to civilian rule in 1999, could take advantage and manipulate the electoral process.

Even though the economy of Nigeria has improved under the leadership of Mr Jonathan, many Nigerians are of the view that he has largely been reluctant to fight corruption.

Jonathan fired the Central Bank governor for raising the red flag on a missing $20 billion from fuel proceeds last year.

Mr Buhari on the other hand demonstrated a determination to fight graft during his rule as one of Nigeria's military presidents.

As a northerner, Muslim and a former army General, Buhari stands a realistic chance of tackling the Boko Haram menace.

The people of Nigeria should nevertheless be given the chance to decide who between Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari will lead them. This is only possible if the threat of Boko Haram is eliminated.

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